Knowledge and Beliefs Regarding Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Among Mexican-Heritage Latinas

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Lower participation rates in mammography and Papanicolaou test are common among Latinas compared with other ethnic groups. Suboptimal screening rates are attributed to lack of knowledge, access to services, and cultural influences.


The purpose of this study is to qualitatively examine an alternative framework for examining cultural influences on Mexican-heritage Latinas’ understandings of breast and cervical cancer screening and how to leverage their beliefs to positively influence screening practices.


The study is based on the analysis of 4 focus groups with 47 Latinas residing in greater Phoenix, Arizona.


Iterative qualitative analyses identified 5 major themes: (1) knowledge and beliefs about cancer cause and risk in general, (2) knowledge and beliefs specific to breast and cervical cancer screening, (3) experiences with breast and cervical cancer screening, (4) facilitators and barriers to breast and cervical screening, and (5) desired information about cancer and screening.


Rather than focusing on Latinas’ knowledge and/or misconceptions of breast and cervical cancer in screening-related education, researchers must examine what Latinas believe and leverage those convictions to expand their perceptions and behaviors related to breast and cervical cancer prevention practices.

Implications for Practice:

Practitioners should recognize that Latinas may differ in beliefs from other minorities, and that even within-group, there may be cultural differences that influence cancer screening behaviors.

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